Studies have shown that men and women who are drinking six or more cups of coffee a day have a 10 (for men) and 15 (for women) percent lower risk of dying at an earlier age.
Historically, doctors have noted a correlation between caffeine and an increase in bad cholesterol, high blood pressure and the risk of heart disease; however, a recent study has revealed an interesting pattern: Drinking coffee may extend the overall lifespan in already healthy individuals.
A study held from 1995 to 2008 involving the National Institutes of Health and AARP members between the ages of 50 to 71 from all over the US has given researchers a better look at the possible health benefits of coffee. They made sure to exclude people who already had heart disease, a stroke or cancer or had too many or too few calories a day.
‘By 2008 about 52,000 had died. Compared to those who drank no coffee, men who had two or three cups a day were 10 percent less likely to die at any age. For women, it was 13 percent,’ revealed the study.
Since previous studies have suggested that coffee may have a part in heart disease, this study inspired Neal Freedman, nutritional epidemiology researcher at the National Cancer Institute, to consider another contributing factor. He noted that many who were at higher risk of death were coffee drinkers and tobacco smokers, too. ‘It was only after we took into account people’s smoking that the association, the inverse association, revealed itself,’ he said. ‘Smoking has a really strong association with death.’
In the end, Freedman’s study showed that those with healthy habits who drink six or more cups of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee did cut the risk of dying but not to the extreme. Freedman couldn’t calculate the exact amount of extra life each cup can give you. However, he admits coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart or respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, injuries, accidents and infections. No effect was seen on cancer death risk, though.
So we’ll admit that we’ll grab that extra cup of java to increase the longevity of our lives, even if it’s only by a few percentage points, but a word of advice: More coffee does not mean you should pack on the sugar and cream.
As Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health advises, ‘Watch the sugar and cream. Extra calories and fat could negate any benefits from coffee.’
Coffee was what kept me up during those late nights of studying in college; for expecting and new mothers, you’d think it would be their lifeline too! I figured caffeine was the fuel that helped them during long, sleepless nights with their newborns.
But to my surprise, drinking caffeine has been a concern for many mothers. It’s been believed that mothers should cut down on their coffee habit because of adverse affects that could affect the sleeping patterns of their bundles of joy. However, researches have found that coffee does not affect your child’s sleeping habits.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you can keep drinking that Grande Double Mocha you crave each morning, but studies have failed to show any heightened risk correlating between a mother’s caffeine intake and sleeplessness in her child.
Heavy coffee drinkers are defined as consuming about 300 milligrams or more of caffeine per day via coffee or any caffeinated beverage. “In 2010, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said that 200 milligrams of caffeine a day – about the amount in a 12-ounce cup of coffee — probably did not carry pregnancy risks.”
In an article in HealthDay, Brazilian researchers conducted an analysis of sleeping patterns of more than 4,200 infants until the age of 3 months. The mothers of these infants had light caffeine consumption before and after delivery. Led by Dr. Ina Santos of the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil, the study was designed to analyze the possibility that caffeine linked to disrupted sleeping patterns in newborns and babies. Of the 4,200 babies, 885 mothers were interviewed after delivery and three months later to gauge their caffeine-drinking habits. Each baby was then examined after delivery and had follow-up exams three months later. Santos and her colleagues stated that all but one mother consumed caffeinated beverages.
Twenty percent of the mothers were considered to be heavy consumers and 14 percent had heavier caffeine consumption three months after giving birth. About 14 percent of the babies frequently woke up during the night. There was some indication that nighttime wake-ups were more prevalent with babies whose mothers were heavy caffeine drinkers during pregnancy and nursing, but Santos claims these numbers were still not significant.
‘Nighttime wakening among babies that age can be due to so many different things,’ Lona Sandon, a registered dietitian and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas said. ‘So to tease out caffeine’s role is going to be very difficult.’
Caffeine can cause sleep disruption among adults, but researchers aren’t finding any hard evidence that java consumption, at any particular level, is directly connected to the sleep pattern disruptions of babies.
A common inquiry we receive is in regard to the type of water customers should use in their coffee making equipment. Some folks think that distilled water will be their best bet, as they won’t have to worry about scale build up or performing descaling procedures for the life of the machine. While there seems to be as many supporters as there are detractors regarding whether or not it’s healthy for the human body, we do know that distilled water is not healthy for your machine. Seriously!
First up, let’s talk about your equipment. Putting water that has a lack of ions or mineral content through equipment that is basically composed of minerals (stainless steel, copper, nickel, brass, etc.) means the water will take that opportunity to take on ions from the surrounding space, contributing to a slow breakdown of those materials. It will essentially leach minerals out of the metal components and degrade the machine’s performance over time. Additionally, there are several models of machines on the market (such as the Rockets) that use a minor electrical charge to determine if there is water in the reservoir. If there aren’t enough minerals in the water to conduct that charge, the machine’s sensor will report that the reservoir is empty.
Now, let’s talk about the coffee. The Specialty Coffee Association of America performed extensive testing and found that the ideal mineral balance is 150 parts per million (ppm). Coffee produced with water that contains this level of hardness is better balanced and a smoother cup. A lower mineral content allows for too much available space, often resulting in an overextraction and a bitter flavor. Conversely, water with a higher mineral content won’t have enough available space, so coffee will be underextracted and possibly more sour. As distilled water has hardly any mineral content (roughly 9ppm), using it for coffee preparation will result in a bitter cup.
We often say that you should use water that you like to drink to make your coffee — after all, coffee is over 98% water. Another option is to use softened water, which encapsulates the minerals, maintaining their structure within the water while prohibiting their ability to adhere to internal components. This can give you the best of both worlds: A smooth and balanced cup of coffee while also reducing the overall maintenance for the life of the machine.
The Harvard School of Public Health has done a series of studies uncovering the health benefits of coffee for preventing diabetes. In the well-known Nurses’ Health Study, they looked at 982 diabetic and 1,058 non-diabetic women without cardiovascular disease.
‘They wanted to see if the beneficial effects of coffee on metabolism were from changes in the hormone adiponectin,’ said Jonathan Galland, health writer for HuffPost Healthy Living. Adiponectin is key in that it promotes insulin sensitivity which protects individuals against Type 2 diabetes.
What they found was women who had four or more cups of coffee per day ‘had significantly higher adiponectin’ than those who did not drink coffee regularly.
Across the world, scientists in Germany, Finland and Denmark have been raving about the benefits of increasing one’s coffee intake to improve cholesterol levels and blood levels of inflammatory compounds.
Referring to the European scientists studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, ‘Coffee consumption appears to have favorable effects on some markers of sub-clinical inflammation and oxidative stress and to increase plasma concentrations of potential biomarkers of coffee intake.’
In Layman’s terms, since subclinical inflammation is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes , coffee mediates and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes amongst people who drink coffee habitually for years.
But it’s not only caffeinated coffee that helps prevent diabetes, studies have shown that decaf may have the same positive affects also!
It’s not necessarily the caffeine that gives individuals the health benefits, Frank Hu, MD, MPH, PhD, nutrition and epidemiology professor at the Harvard School of Public Health explains to WebMD. Coffee is jam packed with other nutrients, such as antioxidants, that he says contribute to, ‘the whole package.’ Antioxidants help prevent tissue damage caused by molecules called oxygen-free radicals.
Coffee also is full of minerals (i.e. magnesium and chromium) that helps the body use the hormone insulin, which controls blood sugar (glucose). In type 2 diabetes, the body loses its ability to use insulin and regulate blood sugar effectively.
So if you’ve been looking for an excuse on which to pawn off your java addiction, now you’ve got a few health points to reference! Sip that second (or third or fourth) cup of the day and ruminate on how well you’re treating your body — and your taste buds.
As you walk into your local cafe and notice a 3-year-old sitting in the corner with his mother sipping on what looks like a foamy, velvety cappuccino, don’t doubt your vision: That’s exactly what it is. And because its a fad it’s gotta have a cutesy amalgam of a name, right? Yup — it’s called the Babyccino.
Beginning in Australia about a decade ago, the Babyccino craze recently headed to Great Britain and then leapt across the pond to the eastern US. According to The Brooklyn Paper, the term Babyccino is used to ‘describe a macchiato-like beverage featuring a shot of decaf espresso topped with steamed milk and froth, while others use it to describe steamed milk with foam on top and a touch of cinnamon.’
Surprisingly we haven’t seen this oh so popular trend pop up in every cafe in the west coast quite yet, but many east coast cafes have jumped on the bandwagon and put their own twist to these trendy miniature sized drinks. Running at about $2 for a cup, the price may seem a little steep until you consider the peace of mind provided to mothers everywhere, who can finally furnish their toddler with a drink just like mommy’s.
However, even though they’re cute in size and are said to be kid friendly, not everyone is a big fan of them. ‘There is no reason on earth to have these drinks and introduce caffeine to a younger population,’ said TODAY chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman.
While some may look at the health factors caffeine could cause in children, baristas themselves are affected by the new trend also. Many explain how the increase of children will affect the coffee shop community negatively. ‘Some baristas do not want to cater that much to kids,’ states a blog on roaste.com. ‘On the one hand, kids are good from some businesses, but if the noise becomes a factor, the home workers and students might take their laptops elsewhere.’
But other New York cafes, such as Sit and Wonder, cater to their Babyccino fans by outfitting their joints with changing stations in the bathroom and a backyard with toys for kids to play. Others, like the Tea Lounge, even offer stroller parking and designated areas for mothers to breastfeed their babies.
We say to each their own; who are we to say what’s right or wrong for a child we’re not rearing? And who’s to say that Babyccinos are only for kids? Bring out the inner child in you and enjoy a few sprinkles with your drink! Also, do you really want to deprive Ruby of her sprinkles on her Babyccino?!
Before the days — or should I say the long nights — of cramming for tests, writing papers and preparing presentations, I’d never even thought of caffeine as an essential element of balancing my life. But in my first years of college, I wanted to have fun! And a daily dose of coffee helped me get all my schoolwork done without impacting my ability to hit the dance floor.
From the beatnik vibe of the Solstice Cafe to the hustle and bustle of the University Village Starbucks (one of their busiest shops, even today), my devotion to java ensured I wouldn’t be running on empty before I hit my next lecture.
It’s not that I was before my time or anything, but since I’ve moved from over-caffeinated college student to … er, over-caffeinated working professional, I thought I’d take a look at what the kids are doing these days. Enter this blog from BestCollegesOnline.com, in which they rate the top 25 college coffee shops in the country that keep our future’s creative juices flowing.
Have you been to one of the coffee shops listed? If so, is it worth the press? What was your favorite java joint when you were in college? Please share in the comments below!
Who would’ve thought that the fountain of youth could be found right in your very own kitchen — and right under your nose? Your morning cup of coffee provides more than just a kick in the pants to get going in the morning, it also has positive affects on your noodle!
Studies have shown that drinking at least three to five cups of coffee a day in midlife can cut Alzheimer’s risk 65 percent in late life.
A July 2011 study by researchers at the University of Florida found that ‘coffee seems to have an unidentified ingredient that combines with caffeine to reduce brain levels of beta-amyloid — the abnormal protein that is thought to cause the disease,’ published the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
In early studies, USF researchers believed that caffeine was probably the ingredient that provides protection because it decreases brain production of beta-amyloid. However, the same study also claims that it may not be the caffeine itself but a combination of the caffeine and coffee’s compounds that, when combined, increases blood levels of a growth factor called GCSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor). Alzheimer patients are known to have low levels of GCSF.
In their studies, long term treatment with coffee enhanced levels of GCSF and memory in mice with Alzheimer’s. Three key benefits researchers found were:
- GCSF recruits stem cells from bone marrow to enter the brain and remove the harmful beta-amyloid protein that initiates the disease
- GSCF creates new connections between brain cells
- GCSF increases the birth of new neurons in the brain
While this has only been tested and verified on mice, it does demonstrate that coffee can have a strong impact on the progression of Alzheimer’s, to the extent that it’s worth more study. Dr. Chuanhai Cao, one of the study’s lead authors, said, ‘Together these actions appear to give coffee an amazing potential to protect against Alzheimer’s — but only if you drink moderate amounts of caffeinated coffee.’
But who’s to say adding those extra cups of coffee won’t give you a memory like an elephant when you’re in your 90s? Better safe than sorry.
Still trying to decide what to get your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day? Look no further than your resident coffee pot!
Seattle’s Best Coffee released survey results last week in which 32% of coffee drinkers surveyed recommend bonding over morning coffee to keep a relationship healthy. In fact, coffee was significantly more likely to be recommended than the usual suspects of flowers, dinner at a nice restaurant and jewelry.
This may have something to do with the physiological effects of coffee consumption. Caffeine blocks certain receptors, allowing dopamine (a neurotransmitter associated with desire) to roam more freely. Romantic, eh?
So don’t panic if you haven’t written your loved one a poem or made outrageously fabulous plans for the day. After all, you’re doing something that will strengthen your relationship all year long!
Do you find yourself slowly backing away from your drip coffee maker or espresso machine because of all the hullabaloo about BPA (Biosphenol A) in plastics? As you have no doubt heard by now, there have been a wide range of reports regarding BPA — an organic compound found in polycarbonate plastics — examining how safe it is to have in containers from which we eat, drink, etc.
A chemical that’s been historically used to make a variety of items (from children’s toys to food containers to water bottles to coffee makers), researchers have recently found that BPA emits toxins over time — especially when it’s heated. The long term affects of such leaching can cause health problems like cancer, reproductive abnormalities and neurological problems, just to name a (very nasty) few.
But don’t fret! Many coffee equipment manufacturers, such as Technivorm, Aeropress and Hourglass, have made a point to notify their customers or state on their products that they are BPA-free or that they’ve decided to switch to a safer alternative. As for Rancilio, Rocket, Delonghi, Saeco and Jura, we’ve searched high and low for some BPA-free facts, but have only received a verbal guarantee that they are BPA-free and FDA approved.
Here are a few tips on how you can make sure your java gear is safe and free of any dangerous toxins you don’t want floating around in your cup o’ joe:
- Hard, Clear & Unbreakable: Plastics that are hard and clear are usually made from polycarbonate. Unless the manufacturer states that it is BPA-free, it’s the BPA chemical additive that makes plastics clear instead of cloudy or opaque. Check on the manufacturing packaging for an explicit statement, otherwise skip it.
- Too Hot to Handle: Heat accelerates the possibility of BPA leaching into beverages stored in plastics. Make sure your to go cups are stainless steel where your coffee touches it.
- Unlucky #7: Take a look at your plastics and find the triangle stamp on or near the bottom of your product. Products consisting of polycarbonate should have the number 7 or sometimes the letters PC.
However, not all plastics with the number 7 mean they contain BPA. The number 7 can also mean that that certain plastic is in the ‘other’ category. These plastics are usually soft and pliable, and are not made with BPA. Because some of their products contain components with the number 7 on them, Technivorm has tried to clarify this, also specifically listing which materials are utilized in those products:
Although judged safe by most testing agencies and reports, a few misleading negative studies have identified plastics marked with recycling no. 7 as unsafe. Some — but not all — plastics with the recycling no. 7 are polycarbonate. — Technivorm
While a few of their components are a mixture of polycarbonate, they do meet FDA requirements. Technivorm hopes to get closer to being a totally BPA-free manufacturer by getting rid of the use of any polycarbonate in their current and future products.
But if you’re still worried about BPA in your coffee maker, just know that most coffee maker brew baskets are made of ABS plastic and polypropylene for their water tanks — both of which are BPA-free plastics.
Over the past few years, Starbucks has been laying off employees and closing down storefronts to make up for lost revenue during the recession, but they’re also now operating in a more crowded competitive space. Where they once dominated the market for quickly prepped gourmet espresso drinks, larger players are coming to the table and upping the ante.
Competing against fast-food chains, like McDonalds, who’s playing hardball by providing their customers with coffee drinks with all the frills but at a lower cost, Starbucks is trying to lure back their coffee connoisseurs who’ve been bedazzled by fast-food prices by offering free internet and access to e-books and sites that usually come at a cost. They’ve also begun mandating a slow down in service that would limit a barista’s drink prep to just one drink at a time — clearly in an effort to show customers some level of artisan skill in the face of the fast-food, assembly-line approach they used before (and from which they are more actively trying to differentiate themselves). This comes into play even more when you consider the ‘third wave’ coffee movement’s focus on the culinary rather than commodity attributes of the mighty bean.
Another way they’re trying to compete is by making their food options more healthy, reinventing their menu by ‘raising the bar on food to be tastier’ with ‘healthier and lighter options.’ Making baked goods that are healthy but without the cardboard taste, Starbucks has incorporated organic blueberries, a higher percentage of real bananas and has made marshmallow squares less of a guilty pleasure at only 210 calories. But other than slimming down their treats, they’ve also added healthier drinks and lunch alternatives by taking a queue from local farmer’s markets. With basic yet natural options, they now have smoothies and salads (i.e. Strawberry Banana Vivanno and Farmer’s Market Salad) made from real produce, which, again, carry less of a calorie count.
Is this what a Starbucks customer really wants, though? If the company grew to become a competitor in the international food market that is on par with McDonald’s by implementing many of the same operational techniques, can they roll these back in a sufficiently effective way to court customers back to their cafes? And how healthy has Starbucks really gotten when you see statistics comparing a 483-calorie Mocha Frappe Latte with semi-skimmed milk almost on par with a 492-calorie Big Mac?